They May Be Deserving…

We are pleased to welcome Brandon Warne to the FanGraphs team. Brandon has written for every Twins publication in existence and a few that haven’t even been invented yet. We look forward to mocking him for rooting for the 2011 #6org, but more than that, hope you enjoy his pieces here on the site.

Every season when All Star voting begins to wind down, and rosters are finalized for the Midsummer Classic, fans begin murmuring the ‘S’ word. It’s an ugly, dirty four-letter word that gets thrown around with little or no regard to who is within earshot, or how the rosters are constructed.

That four letter word is snub.

With 750 roster spots occupied at any given time in the major leagues, and fewer one-in-ten of those players deemed worthy of an All-Star nod, there’s no shortage of these snubs each season. With this dynamic in mind, let’s take a peek at some players likely to be snubbed from their respective All Star squads, and plead for those with the power to make these predictions wrong to do so.

National League:

Shane Victorino – CF, Phillies

Victorino’s off to his best season yet, triple-slashing .291/.359/.498 for a Phillies offense that has been markedly poorer than seasons past. Still, the Flyin’ Hawaiian is up against some heavyweights in the outfield in the National League, including top three vote-getters Ryan Braun, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday in addition to the NL’s home run leader, Matt Kemp. Add to this the fact that Placido Polanco is currently slated to start at third base, along with teammates Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in the mix at their respective positions (oh, and they have these three pitchers who are pretty good), and it seems likely that Victorino is destined to spend the break at his preferred vacation destination rather than showing off the skills that have enabled him to compile 3.8 WAR.

Mike Morse – 1B, Nationals

With Prince Fielder and Joey Votto posting batting lines that are completely out of this world, and Gaby Sanchez the likely benefactor from the fact that Albert Pujols will need to be replaced due to his forearm injury, the NL would have to be willing to carry four first baseman to get Morse onto the squad. They might do that for a bigger name player, but for Morse, it’s not so certain.

However, Morse has been a revelation for the Nationals this season, as he’s pounded Senior Circuit pitching to the tune of a .300/.352/.546 triple-slash and .383 wOBA. There are definitely flaws in his game, as he fans more than one-fourth of the time while only walking about once every 18 plate appearances. Perhaps once opposing pitchers realize that Morse swings at just about everything (39.8 out of zone swing percentage versus 29.6 league average), fewer balls will be flying out of the park for the former Mariners farmhand, but until then, he’ll likely have to settle for snub status. Again, each team needs a rep, but it’s not hard to envision Danny Espinosa or Drew Storen getting the Nationals pick.

American League:

Ben Zobrist – UTIL Rays

Despite carrying the top WAR among all American League second basemen at 4.1, Ben Zobrist checks in at fifth in the balloting behind Orlando Cabrera, he of the -0.6 WAR and .243/.272/.320 slash-line. Still, it’s been a good bounce-back year for the Zorilla, as he’s gained back over 100 of the 250 OPS points he lost in 2010 from the 2009 campaign. Playing primarily at second base has been great for Zobrist’s value, as his .363 wOBA ties him for sixth among those at the keystone, and his fielding has been superlative. Evan Longoria, James Shields, and even David Price all seem like better bets to represent Tampa in Arizona.

Erik Bedard – SP Mariners

Lost behind King Felix Hernandez and Prince Michael Pineda in the Emerald City this season has been the rejuvenation of the once-great Erik Bedard. And while fans are still perhaps holding their collective breath around every turn when it comes to Bedard’s health, he’s held up very well so far this season, fanning 8.7 hitters per nine to place fourth in the AL among starters, behind Jon Lester and his aforementioned rotation mates Hernandez and Pineda. Perhaps the best part of Bedard’s return to glory is that it doesn’t appear to be a mirage either, as he’s only slightly outperforming his xFIP and FIP, and his line drive, fly ball, and ground ball rates are all right in line with his career marks. To put it succinctly, he’s back and for real, but all bets are off when it comes to health. Hernandez and/or Pineda will likely represent the M’s at Chase Field, but a tip of the cap has to go out to the entire rotation, of which Jason Vargas carries the worst current ERA at 3.88. Also worth mentioning: No one outside of their starting five has made a start this year. Better knock on wood, Mariners fans.

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In addition to Rotographs, Warne is a Minnesota Twins beat reporter for 105 The Ticket's "Cold Omaha" website as well as a sportswriter for Sportradar U.S. in downtown Minneapolis. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Warne, or feel free to email him to do podcasts or for any old reason at brandon.r.warne@gmail-dot-com

42 Responses to “They May Be Deserving…”

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  1. A preliminary thanks to all who read!

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  2. self says:

    I think Ben Zobrist is a second baseman, not basement.

    Good read though.

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  3. cuck says:

    Hey Brandon, I thought it was good though maybe an overdone topic, nevertheless it’s always nice to see Twins fans as writers.

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  4. Yeah, that’s a really good WAR. I used last night’s numbers…so my apologies there.

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  5. beat_la_25 says:

    That Andrew McCutchen doesn’t even show up in the top 15 NL OFs in the most recent voting update (behind Raul Ibanez and Carlos Gomez? Really?) is pretty much grounds to scrap the idea of a fan vote altogether.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      Why? Fans aren’t allowed to want to see players based on factor’s other than current year’s performance?

      The All-Star Game is the People’s Choice Award, not the Oscars.

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      • Kyle says:

        The problem came when they decided to make the All-Star game mean something. If they wanted the game to be an exhibition of players picked for being fan favorites instead of being the best, they shouldn’t have made the game have meaning.

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      • beat_la_25 says:

        Based on skill, he certainly deserves to be up there. Additionally, given that the All-Star game now has postseason repercussions, there’s pressure, albeit minimal (especially for fans of teams unlikely to play in the Series) to put the best team out there.

        Additionally, he’s one of the most exciting players in the game, so even if we’re talking about intangibles and what people “want to see,” I can’t imagine being more excited to see a lumbering Ibanez whiff his way through the game than McCutchen’s youth and speed/power combo.

        If you’re going for more of a lifetime achievement thing, I certainly think there’s value in that. However, Ibanez’s career doesn’t merit it. He’s had a good-not-great career and is now nosediving into the end of his employable baseball years. Chipper Jones at third in a down year at the NL hot corner? Sure. Ibanez? No way.

        Of course, this isn’t just a McCutchen vs. Ibanez debate, and I know that wasn’t your argument. However, my vision of the All Star Game (of course, everyone’s is different) is that the best teams each league can possibly field play against each other. Right now, it’s basically a contest that sits somewhere between “who plays in the biggest market” and “which team can do the best job of mobilizing their fanbase,” with the players’ actual skill and accomplishments something of a footnote in the process.

        I feel it is the responsibility of those in power to force-feed the populace what we know they will enjoy, as we obviously know better than they do. They’ll have fun watching it. Or else.

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      • GiantHusker says:

        Yirmiyahu and Kyle make excellent points. I’d rather see the players who have been stars over a few years than the players who have had the best half-seasons of the current year. I’d also like to see all the players play.
        That home-team-advantage inducement is perhaps the most stupid idea in the history of baseball (I realize that’s saying a lot) and needs to be banished.
        As for the article in general, it is very easy to name players that are worthy of being on the All Star Team, but it is meaningless unless you balance it with players who will be on but aren’t worthy.

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      • That’s a good article idea, though it’s tough to know exactly which players those will be. It’s easy enough to see who is leading on the balloting, but it that really an illuminating column to write? It’s always hard to project who the managers will select, especially since some of them make use of the spoils system.

        On the same note, if we save that column for right after the rosters are released, then it’s also pretty obvious to see who should/shouldn’t have made it.

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    • Rex says:

      sweet screen name, im gonna give you a thumbs up just because of it

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      • beat_la_25 says:

        Yeah I’m a lifelong Giants fan but right now I’m honestly more concerned with beating LA in court than on the field. McCourt’s an embarrassment to the game of baseball, and needs to be gone. I hope the court sees it that way.

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    • chrstn41 says:

      Yep. Based on WAR, McCutchen is currently the third-best position player in the NL, and the second-best outfielder. He’s better than old Shane. And there’s probably a much bigger chance that Cutch gets snubbed than there is that Victorino doesn’t make it. Nonsense.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        If you switch Cutch and Victorino I bet Cutch is getting voted in. Philly fans are about as bad as Sox and Yanks fans. Victorino doesn’t deserve to be in. The NL has several better outfielders than him and since every team needs the representative, I think that Lee and Halladay and whoever else gets voted in from the Phillies will be enough Phillies.

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      • bender says:

        Victorino has merited all-star selection this year, and has the 3rd best NL OF WAR after kemp and Mccutch. Just because his teammates have been good doesn’t mean he less deserves to be an all-star

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      • I think ‘cutch is a gimme, though. The only other Bucco I can see making it is Hanrahan, and I just don’t think that’ll happen.

        I’m not suggesting Victorino doesn’t make it because his teammates have been good, but that he’ll be squeezed because only so many players from each team can make it while fulfilling the “everyone’s represented” rule.

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  6. ilubrettgardner says:

    brett gardner :(:(:(

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    • jsolid says:

      i remember when the Yankees were debating, hmmmm, do we want Melky Cabrera in CF or Brett Gardner, Melky or Gardner. i did daily facepalms.
      how the Yankees have one of the most underrated players in the majors, i have no idea.

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  7. michael bourne says:

    How about jhonny perhalta? He belongs at SS for the all star game more than morse at 1b.

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    • SS in the AL is vastly less competitive than NL 1B. It’s pretty much that simple. JJ Hardy deserves it more too, but a. we can’t write about every single player and b. he’ll probably represent his club at the ASG.

      I think there’s an outside shot Peralta gets on.

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  8. Chase Headley says:

    I’ve been awesome this year and no one noticed

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  9. kick me in the GO NATS says:

    As a Nats fan, I would send Espinosa ahead of Morse, but I still think Morse and Ramos should go. All have been ungodly for my team. Johnson took over a team a Cf short of a 2012 playoff team.

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    • Ramos hasn’t really been that great (and this is from a Twins guy), and I think I agree since there are so few good second basemen on the NL ballot this year.

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      • Bryz says:

        But Brandon, Ramos is teh awesomest! (or so our fellow Twins fans make it seem)

        Seriously though, I didn’t realize his triple slash wasn’t as good as everyone has made it out to be.

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  10. jsolid says:

    Im a Yankee fan, and i am voting early and often for Asdrubal Cabrera. If Jeter gets elected, it will just be embarrassing, and rightful fodder for the Jeter-is-overhyped crowd.

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  11. kid says:

    Josh Hamilton swings at pitches out of the zone 40% of the time, too. And he makes less contact on those pitches than Morse does. He seems to be an OK player.

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    • Josh Hamilton is also considerably better at controlling the strike zone (K/BB rate, anyway).

      All I’m saying is that Morse is definitely All Star-caliber right now, but I’m not at all suggesting that he’s immune to a second-half collapse. Nor am I wishing that upon him. #slipperyslope

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  12. Detroit Michael says:

    Bedard only counts as a probable snub if one assumes that pre-2011 performance & durability should have no impact on who gets selected for the all-star game. That’s a pretty dubious if common assumption.

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  13. johngomes says:

    when was the last time a pitcher was 4-6 invited to the all star game?

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  14. outshined says:

    Gil Meche was 5-6 prior to the All Star game in 2007

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